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  • Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
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On Sale: April 29, 2008
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-345-51048-8
Published by : LucasBooks Ballantine Group

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On Sale: February 20, 2007
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

“[Betrayal] blasts off a new string of adventures starring beloved Star Wars familiars . . . this new installment should please Star Wars fans.”
–Publishers Weekly

Honor and duty collide with friendship and blood ties as the Skywalker and Solo clans find themselves on opposing sides of an explosive conflict.

When a mission to uncover an illegal missile factory on the planet Adumar ends in a violent ambush–from which Jedi Knight Jacen Solo and his protégé and cousin, Ben Skywalker, narrowly escape with their lives–it’s the most alarming evidence yet that political unrest is threatening to ignite into total rebellion. The specter of full-scale war looms between a growing cadre of defiant planets and the Galactic Alliance that some fear is becoming a new Empire.

Determined to root out those behind the mayhem, Jacen follows a trail of cryptic clues to a rendezvous with the most shocking of revelations. Meanwhile Luke grapples with something even more troubling: dream visions of a shadowy figure whose Force power and ruthlessness remind him of Darth Vader. If Luke’s visions come to pass, they will bring untold pain to the Jedi Master . . . and to the galaxy.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Coruscant

“He doesn’t exist.” With those words, spoken without any conscious thought or effort on his part, Luke Skywalker sat upright in bed and looked around at the dimly illuminated chamber.

There wasn’t much to see. Members of the Jedi order, even Masters such as Luke, didn’t accumulate much personal property. Within view were chairs situated in front of unlit computer screens; a wall rack holding plasteel staves and other practice weapons; a table littered with personal effects such as datapads, notes scrawled on scraps of flimsi, datachips holding reports from various Jedi Masters, and a crude and not at all accurate sandglass statuette in Luke’s image sent to him by a child from Tatooine. Inset into the stone-veneer walls were drawers holding his and Mara’s limited selection of clothes. Their lightsabers were behind Luke, resting on a shelf on the headboard of their bed.

His wife, Mara Jade Skywalker, had more personal items and equipment, of course. Disguises, weapons, communications gear, falsified documents. A former spy, she had never given up the trappings of that trade, but those items weren’t here. Luke wasn’t sure where she kept them. She didn’t bother him with such details.

Beside him, she stirred, and he glanced down at her. Her red hair, kept a medium length this season, was an unruly mess, but there was no sleepiness in her eyes when they opened. In brighter light, he knew, those eyes were an amazing green. “Who doesn’t exist?” she asked.

“I don’t know. An enemy.”

“You dreamed about him?”

He nodded. “I’ve had the dream a couple of times before. It’s not just a dream. It’s coming to me through currents in the Force. He’s all wrapped up in shadows—a dark hooded cloak, but more than that, shadows of light and . . .” Luke shook his head, struggling for the correct word. “And ignorance. And denial. And he brings great pain to the galaxy . . . and to me.”

“Well, if he brings pain to the galaxy, you’re obviously going to feel it.”

“No, to me personally, in addition to his other evil.” Luke sighed and lay down again. “It’s too vague. And when I’m awake, when I try to peer into the future to find him, I can’t.”

“Because he doesn’t exist.”

“That’s what the dream tells me.” Luke hissed in aggravation.

“Could it be Raynar?”

Luke considered. Raynar Thul, former Jedi Knight, presumed dead during the Yuuzhan Vong war, had been discovered a few years earlier—horribly burned during the war, mentally transformed in the years since through his involvement with the insectoid Killik race. That transformation had been a malevolent one, and the Jedi order had had to deal with him. Now he languished in a well-protected cell deep within the Jedi Temple, undergoing treatment for his mental and physical afflictions.

Treatment. Treatment meant change; perhaps, in changing, Raynar was becoming something new, and Luke’s presentment pointed toward the being Raynar would someday become.

Luke shook his head and pushed the possibility away. “In this vision, I don’t sense Raynar’s alienness. Mentally, emotionally, whoever it is remains human, or near human. There’s even the possiblity that it’s my father.”

“Darth Vader.”

“No. Before he was Darth Vader. Or just when he was becoming Vader.” Luke’s gaze lost focus as he tried to recapture the dream. “What little of his face I can see reminds me of the features of Anakin Skywalker as a Jedi. But his eyes . . . as I watch, they turn a molten gold or orange, transforming from Force-use and anger . . .”

“I have an idea.”

“Tell me.”

“Let’s wait until he shows up, then crush him.”

Luke smiled. “All right.” He closed his eyes and his breathing slowed, an effort to return to sleep.

Within a minute the rhythm of his breathing became that of natural sleep.

But Mara lay awake, her attention on the ceiling—beyond it, through dozens of floor levels of the Jedi enclave to the skies of Coruscant above—and searched for any hint, any flicker of what it was that was causing her husband worry.

She found no sign of it. And she, too, slept.

Adumar

The gleaming pearl-gray turbolift doors slid open sideways, and warm air bearing an aroma that advertised death and destruction washed over Jacen Solo, his cousin Ben Skywalker, and their guide.

Jacen took a deep breath and held it. The odors of this subterranean factory were not the smells of corrupted flesh or gangrenous wounds—smells Jacen was familiar with—but those of labor and industry. The great chamber before them had been a missile manufacturing center for decades, and no amount of rigorous cleaning would ever be quite able to eliminate the odors of sweat, machine lubricant, newly fabricated composite materials, solid fuel propellants, and high explosives that filled the air.

Jacen expelled the breath and stepped out of the turbolift, then walked the handful of steps up to the rail overlooking the chamber. He walked rapidly so that his Jedi cloak would billow a little as he strode, so that his boot heels would ring on the metal flooring of this observation catwalk, and so his apprentice and guide would be left behind for a moment. This was a performance for his guide and all the other representatives of the Dammant Killers company. Jacen knew he was carrying off his role quite well; the company officials he’d been dealing with remained properly intimidated. But he didn’t know whether to attribute his success to his bearing and manner, his lean, brooding, and handsome looks, or his name—for on this world of Adumar, with its history of fascination with pilots, the name of Jacen’s father, Han Solo, went a very long way.

His guide, a slender, balding man named Testan ke Harran, moved up to the rail to Jacen’s right. Contrasting with the dull grays and blues that were common on this factory’s walls and its workers’ uniforms, Testan was a riot of color—his tunic, with its nearly knee-length hem and its flowing sleeves, was the precise orange of X-wing fighter pilot uniforms, though decorated with purple crisscross lines breaking it down into a flickering expanse of small diamond shapes, and his trousers, belt, and scarf were a gleaming gold.

Testan stroked his lustrous black beard, the gesture a failed attempt to conceal the man’s nervousness. Jacen felt, rather than saw, Ben move up on the other side of Testan.

“You can see,” Testan said, “ar workars enjoy very fan conditions.”

Ben cleared his throat. “He says their workers enjoy very fine conditions.”

Jacen nodded absently. He understood Testan’s words, and it had taken him little time to learn and understand the Adumari accent, but this was another act, a ploy to keep the Adumari off-balance. He leaned forward to give the manufacturing floor below his full attention.

The room was large enough to act as a hangar and maintenance bay for four full squadrons of X-wing snubfighters. Tall duracrete partitions divided the space into eight lanes, each of which enclosed an assembly line; materials entered through small portals in the wall to the left, rolled along on luminous white conveyor belts, and eventually exited through portals on the far right. Laborers in gray jumpsuits flanked the belts and worked on the materials as they passed.

On the nearest belt, immediately below Jacen, the materials being worked on appeared to be compact visual sensor assemblies. The conveyor belt brought in eight such units and stopped. Moving quickly, the laborers plugged small cables into the units and turned to look into monitors, which showed black-and-white images of jumpsuited waists and worker hands. The workers turned the units this way and that, confirming that the sensors were properly calibrated.

One monitor never lit up with a view from the sensor. The worker on that unit unplugged it and set it on a table running parallel to the conveyor belt. A moment later, the other workers on this section unplugged their sensor units and the conveyor belt jerked into motion again, carrying the remaining seven units to the next station.

One lane over, the conveyor belt remained in constant motion, carrying sensor unit housings along. The workers on that belt, fewer in number than the sensor testers, reached out occasionally to turn a housing, to look inside, to examine the exterior for cracks or warping. Some workers, distributed at intervals along the line, rapped each housing with a small rubber-headed hammer. Jacen assumed they were listening for a musical tone he could not possibly hear at this distance over the roar of noise from the floor.

Another lane away from him, the workers were clad not in jumpsuits but in full-coverage hazardous materials suits of a lighter and more reflective gray than the usual worker outfit. Their conveyor belt carried white plates bearing irregular balls the size of a human head but a nearly luminous green. The belt stopped as each set of eight such balls entered the lane, giving the workers time to plunge needle-like sensors into each ball. They, too, checked monitors for a few seconds before withdrawing the needles to allow the balls to continue on. Jacen knew that poisonous green—it was the color of the high explosive Adumari manufacturers used to fabricate the concussion missiles they exported.

While Jacen made his initial survey, Ben kept their guide occupied. “Do you wax your beard?” he asked.

“I do not.”

“It just seems very shiny. Do you oil it?”

Testan’s voice was a little more irritated in tone. “I do not oil it. I condition it. And I brush it.”

“Do you brush it with butter?”

Jacen finally looked to the right, past Testan and at his cousin. Ben was thirteen standard years of age, not tall but well muscled, with a fine-featured freckled face under a mass of flame-red hair. Ben turned, his face impassive, to look at Jacen, then said, “The Jedi Knight acknowledges that this factory seems to meet the minimum, the absolute minimum, required safety and comfort standards of a Galactic Alliance military contractor.”

Jacen nodded. The nod meant Good improvisation. He was exerting no Force skill to communicate words to Ben; Ben’s role was to pretend to act as his mentor’s translator, when his actual function was to convince the locals that adult Jedi were even more aloof and mysterious than they had thought.

“No, no, no.” Testan drew a sleeve over his brow, dabbing away a little perspiration. “We are wall above minimam standards. Those duracrete barriars? They will vent any explosive farce upward, saving the majority of workars in case of calamity. Workar shifts are only two-fifths the day in length, unlike the old days.”

Ben repeated Testan’s words, and Jacen shrugged.

Ben imitated his motion. The gesture caused his own Jedi robe to gape open, revealing the lightsaber hanging from his belt.

Testan glanced at it, then looked back at Jacen, clearly worried. “Your apprentice—” Unsure, he looked to Ben again. “You are very young, are you not, to be wearing such a weapon?”

Ben gave him a blank look. “It’s a practice lightsaber.”

“Ah.” Testan nodded as though he understood.

And there it was. Perhaps it was just the thought of a thirteen-year-old with a deadly cutting implement at hand, but Testan’s defenses slipped enough that the worry began to pour through.
Aaron Allston|Author Q&A

About Aaron Allston

Aaron Allston - Betrayal: Star Wars (Legacy of the Force)

Photo © Mark Richmond

Aaron Allston is the New York Times bestselling author of the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force novels Betrayal, Exile, and Fury; the Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines adventures Rebel Dream and Rebel Stand; novels in the popular Star Wars X-Wing series; and the Doc Sidhe novels, which combine 1930s-style hero-pulps with Celtic myth. He is also a longtime game designer and was recently inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design (AAGAD) Hall of Fame. He lives in Central Texas.

Author Q&A

Interview with Aaron Allston , author of Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Betrayal

Question: Where does your new novel, Betrayal, fall in the Star Wars timeline?

Aaron Allston: It takes place several years after the NJO series. Ben Skywalker, born during the events of the NJO, is 13 at the start of the Legacy of the Force series. Chronologically, the last novel storyline before Legacy of the Force is Troy Denning’s Dark Nest trilogy, and Troy does some foreshadowing of Legacy events in his books.

Q: Can you set things up for us a bit?

AA: Sure. Years after the defeat of the Yuuzhan Vong, the galaxy is still recovering from the beating it sustained during those dark times. Now war may erupt again–this time between once-allied planets, as Corellia defiantly plays a game of brinksmanship with the Galactic Alliance.

The galaxy's greatest heroes–Luke, Leia, Han, Jaina, Jacen, and many others–will find themselves reluctantly standing on opposite sides of the conflict ... and a danger from Luke's past will force Jacen Solo to make a difficult choice if he's to save the lives of those he loves.

Q: Is this the beginning of a major new story arc, something along the lines of the New Jedi Order, in which many different writers will contribute, or is it a smaller arc to be written entirely by you?

AA: It’s sort of halfway between the two extremes. It’s a major story arc, as consequential to the Star Wars universe as the NJO was, but it’s a nine-book series being written by three writers: me, Karen Traviss, and Troy Denning. We’re in constant rotation, so I’m doing the first one, Karen the second, Troy the third, me again for the fourth, and so on.

One of the reasons the Legacy of the Force series has been interesting is because we learned so much nuts-and-bolts stuff with the New Jedi Order–about coordination of writers, handing off characters and subplots, that sort of thing. It’s fun to be able to put into practice what we learned.

Q: Jacen Solo is very much at the heart of this novel. Without giving any spoilers, can you talk a bit about how you see his character, and how he has been shaped, as a man and a Jedi, by the events of his past?


AA: That “without giving any spoilers” restriction makes this one a little tricky to answer. In becoming a Jedi, Jacen has followed a path unlike anything any other Jedi has traveled. He’s been exposed to more varieties of Force-related teaching than perhaps any other Force user. This may be his greatest strength but also his greatest weakness. He can do things no one else can, but he has also become accustomed to thinking so much for himself that he’s very, very quick to dismiss and disregard traditions. It’s as though he has so many predecessors that he’s quick to ignore the lessons learned by many of them. This combination of virtues and vices makes him very interesting to write.

Q: How do you see the relationship between Jacen and Luke? There seems to be some rivalry and resentment there, at least on Jacen's part.

AA:Jacen loves his uncle. But at this point I think he loves him more than he respects him. Yes, there’s some resentment there. I don’t think of it as rivalry–Jacen doesn’t want Luke’s job, doesn’t want Luke’s specific role in history. He just wishes that Luke would see and understand what Jacen does and make decisions with a greater appreciation of Jacen’s outlook.

Q: Ben Skywalker also plays an important role in the book, one that I assume will grow as the series evolves.

AA: Definitely. Ben is a teenager, with a teenager’s normal curiosity, desire to make his way in the world, hormonal tides, resentments, paranoia, extraordinary potential, angst and drama… and he’s heir to one of the strongest, well, legacies of the Force in the galaxy far, far away. This is sort of like giving a teenager his own dynamite shack. Just how responsibly is he going to use it?

Q: An essential part of the novel's plot has to do with the ability of Jedi to use the Force to glimpse potential futures. What are the limitations of this power? It seems strange for Jedi, who are trained to be so attuned to the present moment, to seek foreknowledge of a more-or-less predetermined future.

AA: There are great limitations on it, if only because the future is not fixed until it’s the present. Assuming you can see “the future” reliably and with crystal clarity–and no one in the Star Wars universe is that good, so far as I know–there’s the fact that the future is always in motion. Everything you do can change it. So peering into all the observable futures might give a Jedi some indication of patterns, of trends, but basing any decision on one of those futures is a very risky choice. It’s Charlie Brown assuming, yet one more time, that Lucy is going to hold the football steady for him to kick. Only this time lives are at stake.

With that in mind, I suspect that the stereotyped Jedi advice to “be mindful of the present,” in addition to “pay attention, stop daydreaming,” also means, “don’t base your decisions on what you see of the present–if you do, you’ll mess up.”

Q: You get into some intriguing aspects of Sith philosophy in this novel that I don't recall seeing addressed before. How did you go about expanding or deepening the Sith philosophy? What restrictions or guidance did you have? And do you think a Jedi could embrace aspects of Sith beliefs and Force techniques without becoming evil or going over to the dark side as Anakin Skywalker did?

AA: As a writer, I have to do a lot of thinking about the personal ethics of the so-called bad guys in my novels. I’m not fond of cackling madmen or antagonists who willingly embrace the notion of evil. They are, in a word, lame. So the variations I’ve made to Sith philosophy emerge from that–from what I see as a need many of the Sith would have to create a philosophy that makes their actions acceptable, even heroic… from a certain point of view.

So with the Sith, we see a “career path” that makes them capable of ever-greater crimes and atrocities as they progress. Typically, the human method of inuring one’s self to atrocities is to become numb to them, to dehumanize the victims of the atrocities, and so on. That’s normal, but it’s also old hat, so I wanted to sort of chart a different course for the Sith–to suggest that those who try to deal with the issue ethically do so by forcing themselves to suffer when they cause suffering, to love what they are destroying, as a means to keep their own excesses in check.

I also wanted to suggest some points in common between Jedi and Sith philosophy, to better express their comparisons and contrasts. For example, if the extreme version of Sith philosophy involves destructive rage, destructive surrender to passion, then the extreme version of Jedi philosophy would be aloofness, emotionlessness, a tendency to become vested in law above compassion, that sort of thing… all with the notion that this was one of the errors made by the Jedi Council during the era of the prequels. I wanted to suggest that any philosophy taken to extremes is destructive, even a philosophy that is theoretically heroic and altruistic, like the Jedi code.

I didn’t have much in the way of restrictions. In part, that’s probably because we floated a this concept at a November 2004 story conference with Lucasfilm at Big Rock Ranch, so everyone knew what was going to be explored and what everyone else’s concerns were about it.

As for the question of whether a Jedi could embrace some aspects of the Sith philosophy and remain good–well, I suspect that the answer is yes, as long as it’s “aspects” and not the whole package. I also wonder sometimes whether a nonhuman could be a full-bore Sith and not be evil–I don’t think that’s possible with a human, owing to the weaknesses in human nature, but perhaps it would be possible with an alien.

Q: Wasn't Vader supposed to unite the two sides of the Force? It would seem that prophecy of the future, at least, didn't come true.

AA: Unite them . . . or bring them into balance? Much of the philosophy of the Force is based on real-world eastern philosophy, which posits the opposed but complementary positions of yin and yang. Bringing balance would seem to involve keeping yin and yang roughly equivalent in influence, rather than blending them together into some sort of New Age protein shake.

Q: Your writing is exceptionally detailed in its descriptions of military hardware, weaponry, and so on. Is the accumulation of detail the secret to convincingly describing objects that don't really exist?

AA: I suspect that you’re the first person ever to say that to me. My natural tendency as a writer has always been to under-describe surroundings, so much so that I have to do a separate editing pass on each manuscript to make sure that I’ve included an adequate amount of sensory detail.

But, yes, I try to put myself into the reader’s head and analyze each passage of a book, asking, “Does this offer enough detail that the reader can visualize what’s going on?” Add to that the tricky task of describing equipment that’s already familiar to fans of the Star Wars universe–for example, X-wings–but still must be visualized by those who aren’t. What’s the magical halfway point between those two positions? I’m constantly trying to find it.

Q: What keeps you excited about working in the Star Wars universe after so many books and so many years?

AA: Well, it’s such a vast universe that there’s always a new pocket to develop. And the series now spans so much time that we can look in on the familiar characters at each new stage of their lives and find something interesting.

I mean, just look at Luke. There’s Luke as a teenager just experiencing the Force for the first time. Luke as a twenty-something, at the top of his craft as a fighter pilot, founding Rogue Squadron and acting as an important Rebellion leader. Luke as a Jedi Master, the only one in existence, taking on the burden of re-creating the Jedi order. Luke apparently doomed, by a series of romantic interests who appear in one novel each, to be a perpetual bachelor. Luke finding the right woman. Luke as a married man. Luke as the Master of a reviving Jedi order that includes other Masters in conflict with him. Luke fighting to keep his family alive in the face of an alien invasion that might destroy civilization as he knows it. Luke as a father. And so on, and so on. Every one of those Lukes can be the protagonist of one or more novels exploring those circumstances, and he’s only one character.

In other words, there’s always neat new stuff for every writer to jump into.

Q: Are you working on any other projects, Star Wars—related or not?

AA: Oh, yes. My plate is pretty full these days. I have two more novels in this series to do, and other, non—Star Wars, novels on the burners as well. I scripted, produced, and directed an ultra-low-budget horror movie, Deadbacks, that is now in post-production. I used to write role-playing game supplements for my living, and have another couple of projects to do in that field. I’ve also done some preliminary work on a couple of nonfiction books, one about writing fiction and one about low-budget film-making.

My website, www.AaronAllston.com, has all the details on these projects and more.


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